Tag Archive | Growing cress seeds

A Greenhouse Clean Up

Usually January has the coldest temperatures of the year, however the month is nearly over and apart from last weeks cold snap, it has been a mild month.  Surprisingly my first daffodil is flowering in my garden:

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 The snow drops that I brought back from my allotment last January are beginning to also bloom in my garden:

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I am so glad they survived the move as they remind me of my good friend that passed away three years ago in February…..when there were snowdrops flowering everywhere.  Also on the day of her funeral as we walked out of the cemetery, all of a sudden snow fell from the sky and it looked beautiful.

Snowdrops will always remind me of my friend and I hope to plant more again this year in my garden, together with the ‘for-get-me-nots’, which seem a complementary match.

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  On the park when I walk Judy, I have noticed that as well as snowdrops flowering there are purple and yellow crocus too:

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Yesterday morning as I walked around the park it felt very spring-like, as the birds were singing beautifully and the sky was lovely and blue.

I have also noticed that daylight is lengthening slightly every day and on fine days it is getting dark a little bit later and lighter a little earlier, which always makes me feel better.

January is usually such a dark and gloomy month, but time seems to have past by very quickly this month and it is nearly February already……is this my age?….or have I just been busier than normal?

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Unfortunately I have been poorly this week with fluid on my ear and sinusitis and I haven’t felt my usual self.  The doctor gave me some antibiotics and I am on the mend now, though I am more tired than usual.

However, on the moments that I have felt ok I have managed to get into the garden.

Last weekend Mr Thrift helped me to clear my greenhouse and give it a good wash as the windows were filthy.  I used ‘Citrox’ which is disinfectant based on extracts of citrus fruit.  It says it is safe to use around children and pets, which is what attracted me to it.

  It washed well and didn’t smell like other disinfectants that I have used in the past:

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After removing the screening that I had left up since summer, we realised that we had a problem with the our neighbours lilac tree and ivy.  They were growing against the greenhouse glass and the ivy was pushing between the panes of glass, which we thought would eventually damage the greenhouse:

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So we spent a whole morning cutting back the lilac tree and removing the ivy, using my long handled pruners and loppers.  Myself and Mr Thrift were too ‘big’ to fit down the back of the greenhouse to remove the ivy, so my youngest daughter (who is very thin) did this for me….and she did a grand job!

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I am going to have to make this an annual job now, so it doesn’t get this bad again.

Afterwards I bought some new greenhouse bubble wrap, as I removed the old bubble wrap last Spring as it really had seen better days.

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The next day I put the bubble wrap up, but unfortunately I need to buy a tiny bit more for the door, as I ran out:

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I also checked my greenhouse heater still works ok, ready for when I need it.

I don’t heat my greenhouse until all my windowsills are full inside my house, as even though my heater is electric and is thermastatically controlled, it is still expensive to run.

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Unfortunately I think I did a bit too much too soon and after sorting my greenhouse out I went downhill and slept for nearly 24 hours!

However in the middle of the week when I started to feel a bit better I decided to dig up my kale (and was told off afterwards by Mr Thrift for doing too much again before I was better).

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The recent winds had blown my kale over, but there wasn’t much of it left anyway.

I picked the remaining kale and the two remaining red cabbages and cleared away the net.  The area looks much better and you can now see the daffodil in flower at the back too:

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Some of the outer leaves of the cabbages were a bit rotten, but once I removed these there was lots of cabbage inside that was fine:

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Both the kale and the cabbages tasted lovely and I even added some of them to the large pot of spaghetti bolognaise I made this week to pad it out:

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So this week has been rather quiet as I have been poorly.  However one final thing I did manage to do was to start some cress seed off.

I love cress as it reminds me of when I was a child as I used grow it then, as it was so easy and it grew quickly.

  “To grow cress, just shake a few seeds on a damp tissue and leave it in a dark place until it germinates and then move it to a windowsill to continue to grow, until it’s about an inch high.  Make sure the tissue is remains damp at all times”.

Cress is nice in sandwiches and in salads and it is something that people forget about.

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Hopefully I will be fighting fit again next week.

So thank you for reading my short blog today and I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a good week!

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How To Plant A Bare-Rooted Tree And The Humble Cress Seed

Parts of the country have been battered by storms this week and my heart goes out to the people that have had to be evacuated from their homes due to flooding.

I have also seen some pictures this week of allotments that have flooded around the country.  I really feel for the people this has happened to, as I know I would be devastated if this happened to mine.  I also can’t imagine how the farmers in Somerset must be feeling as some of their fields have been under water for weeks now.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been quite so bad here.  The ground is very wet but we don’t have any major flooding and our families, homes and gardens are safe.  In fact despite the wet, the garden is beginning to wake up and I have noticed it is a little bit lighter in the morning and it stays lighter in the late afternoon now too…so hopefully Spring will be on it’s way soon.

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The Snowdrops at my allotment are flowering beautifully now and I am really pleased with them.  Hopefully they will spread in a few years around my woodland area.

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And so too are my primroses

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The ground underneath my old plum tree, in my woodland area isn’t too soggy, so I have been transferring some ‘For-get-me-nots’ around the tree.  Again, this will remind me not to forget my good friend that died a year ago this month.  Hopefully they will self-seed this year and I will have more next year.

I keep transplanting as many plants as possible into this area, as the more ground cover I have, the less weeding I will have to do in the warmer months.

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The Poached egg plants (Limnanthes douglasii) that line my central path, self seed like mad.  You can see in the photgraph below how they spread.  So at this time of the year I always dig in the plants that I don’t want, as it acts like a green manure.  But before I do that I transplant some of the plants to other areas on my allotment.

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This year I have started to transplant some of them into my woodland area too.

I have so much of this plant growing at my allotment, as it is great for attracting Bees and other beneficial insects to my plot.  The bees will pollinate my crops and also insects like hoverflies and ladybirds that are attracted to the plants, will then eat the blackflies that are attracted to my crops too.

And not forgetting they also look pretty when they are in flower.

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At home my seeds are beginning to show.  The broad beans that I planted on the 28th January are already showing, but unfortunately the ones I planted on the 21st January aren’t for some reason.  Even though they are all a variety called ‘Aquadulce’, I used a different packet of seed for each tray so I’m wondering if I have a bad pack?…I’ll have to wait and see.

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The leeks I planted on the 21st January are also showing now:

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The garlic that I sowed in modules in my greenhouse on the 21st January is now also racing away.  I will plant these out as soon as the ground is workable at my allotment:

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The onions that I sowed on the 28th January are just showing through now too.  They have been kept in my house where it is warm:

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I received my order from Garden Organic as well this week.  I only ordered one pack of seeds from their ‘Heritage seed Library Catalogue, as this is all I needed.

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I planted these cauliflowers last year and they have overwintered well.  They will hopefully give me a good early crop of cauliflowers in April/May this year and if I sow my new seeds in Spring, then I will hopefully get a good crop again next year.

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Don’t forget the humble packet of ‘Cress’ seeds.

Last week I sowed some ‘Cress’ seeds.  I remember doing this as a child in an old margarine pot.  I did it exactly the same way now.  It’s easy to forget about this really easy seed to grow.

All I did was line the pot with a folded tissue and wet it (pouring away any excess water) and I sprinkled the cress seed thickly on top of the tissue.  I put the pot in a cupboard (so it’s dark) and waited for the seeds to germinate, being careful to not let them dry out.

As soon as they germinated, I put the pot on the window sill and I just watered them when they needed it.

In a couple of weeks I have lovely cress to add to my salads or egg sandwiches:

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I also picked up a bargain this week.  I wanted to buy an oregano plant as it’s a herb we eat a lot of it in our house and I was lucky enough to spot a bargain, healthy plant at Wilkinsons this week.  I only paid £3 for it which I was really pleased with.  I will leave the plant inside for a while yet though.

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I don’t know if you remember, but back in the autumn we moved my shed from one place at my allotment to better place.  I have been left with a bare bit of ground that is sheltered and very sunny and I have spent the winter wondering what to plant there.

I finally decided to buy and plant a bare-rooted Quince tree.  Bare-rooted trees are perfect to plant at this time of year (unless your ground is soggy of course).  The advantage of bare-rooted trees is that they are usually cheaper than pot grown trees, but they can only be planted while the tree is dormant.

A couple of years ago, Rob Carter (the head gardener at Eco House in Leicester), gave me some Quinces to try and I made Quince jelly and it was wonderful.  So this was my inspiration for buying the tree.

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I actually bought the tree on Ebay from ‘Beechwood Nurseries’ for £19.99.  I had recently been selling one or two things on ebay and I decided to treat myself with the proceeds.

The tree arrived and when I had finally unwrapped it (I have never seen so much wrapping in all my life), the tree appeared to have a good root system.

For those that have never planted a bare-rooted tree before, this is how to do it:

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Planting a bare-rooted tree

It’s important not to let the roots dry out, so as soon as I unwrapped the tree, I then soaked the roots for a few hours in water.

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I dug a hole large enough to spread the roots out and deep enough so the soil sits just below the ‘bulge’ where the top part of the tree (the scion) was grafed onto the rootstock.

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I then made holes with my fork, all over the area at the bottom of the holes to help with drainage.

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At this stage you can coat your tree roots with ‘mycorrhizal fungi’ which you can buy from most garden centres.  This helps the tree roots to establish better, but I’ve got to say I never bother with it.

I then put the tree in the hole and positioned the tree stake.  I find it better to put the stake in now, so I don’t damage the roots by hammering it in later.

I then fill the hole with a mixture of the soil I had taken out of the hole and lots of my homemade compost.

After half filling the hole, I tread all around the tree to make sure there are no air pockets

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Then I continue to fill the hole and repeat with my foot when it is full.

I then give the tree a good watering to allow the compost/soil to settle around the tree

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I then use a tree tie to secure the tree to the stake.

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And then I gave it a quick prune.

There is some really good advice about ‘formative pruning’ here on the RHS website.

Please remember, you can’t prune plum or cherries at this time of year.

And now I look forward to lots of Quinces in a few years.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.